December 17. 2012 9:59PM

Nashua aldermen agree to charge for campaign visits

Union Leader Correspondent

NASHUA - Aldermen killed a proposed ordinance on Monday that would have prohibited the city from charging presidential campaigns for their visits to Nashua.

On a vote of 1-5, the aldermanic Personnel and Administrative Affairs Committee rejected the proposed ordinance by Alderman Diane Sheehan, Ward 3.

After hearing opposition from several aldermen, a motion was then made to indefinitely postpone the legislation, which was ultimately supported by the committee.

"They are photo (opportunities), and they should be charged," said Alderman Arthur Craffey, Ward 4, adding a bill should be sent to presidential campaigns, and the bills should be paid.

The proposed ordinance stated that "no sitting president or vice-president, or candidates for the offices of president or vice-president who have secured their party's nomination and will be included on the November federal election ballot in New Hampshire, shall be required to reimburse the city for costs and expenses of city employees or materials arising from or related to an official visit or campaign event."

Until a federal law is established that addresses this issue, Sheehan said last night that a local policy should be in place.

Just because the city sends a bill to the U.S. Secret Service seeking reimbursement for Nashua's police overtime costs, doesn't mean the bill is getting paid, according to Sheehan, who called that a "feel good reaction."

Alderman Brian McCarthy, board president, said the recent bill sent to the U.S. Secret Service for President Barack Obama's campaign visit earlier this fall at Elm Street Middle School still has not been paid.

"We are never going to get reimbursed for it, as far as I know," McCarthy said of the police overtime costs necessary to assist with the event. Despite that, Alderman Kathy Vitale, Ward 1, said the campaigns should still be sent invoices.

While she doesn't mind having the city pay for official White House visits, campaign events should not be the responsibility of local taxpayers, said Vitale.

"Campaigns - they make a lot of money," agreed Alderman June Caron, Ward 7, who was also in opposition of the proposed legislation.

Sheehan, however, argued that she does not want to place New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary status in jeopardy.

But if the city is responsible for paying police overtime costs during campaign visits, the Nashua Police Department will inevitably have to come before the Board of Aldermen eventually asking for more money in its budget, stressed Alderman Paul Chasse, Ward 6, who also opposed the proposal.